Lately, I’ve been wrestling with the polarizing topic of food banks. Food banks are the latest ‘love to hate’ among progressives, and I can sometimes unwittingly find myself getting swept up in the rhetoric. Of course I want to be part of a movement to end hunger – sign me up! Thanks to a project I’m involved in, I’ve had a chance to dig a little deeper into this polarizing topic.
Our expectations of food banks change. We forget that they are intended to be a stop-gap – a temporary response to a problem for which we do not yet have a long-term solution. A Band-Aid.
We need food banks that excel at collecting, storing and distributing massive amounts of food. This is the narrow, focused, and – ideally – impermanent role that food banks play as part of a much broader system. Increasing the connectedness and the quality of the relationships between the elements of the system can only help. While we continue to pursue longer-term, transformative solutions that include policy change and critical social supports, food banks help ensure that people who are in crisis today get food.
Band-Aids cannot prevent scrapes, nor can they heal them. They can simply stem the bleeding. And we are bleeding.